Thousands of people flooded Main Street Sunday this afternoon, coming from across the state to sample food, listen to live music and people-watch at the annual Taste of Ann Arbor festival.
The festival, organized by the Main Street Area Association of businesses, is intended to provide attendees a sampling of several of Ann Arbor's many restaurants in smaller, cheaper portions.
Vera Rattler, who graduated from the University of Michigan in 2015, and Laura Burnett, who grew up in Ann Arbor, came back to the city to experience the festival for that very reason.
"I really like food,” Rattler said. “Sometimes you wanna eat a thousand little things and not one big thing. We're just gonna stuff our faces. I wore stretchy pants for this reason."
"Well we just ran a tough mudder yesterday, so this is our day to carbo-load and recharge," Burnett added.
In addition to providing samples from restaurants across town, live music is also a big part of the festival.
Matthew Altruda, who organized the musical acts for the festival and also hosts Tree Town Sound, an Ann Arbor radio program, said he wanted to provide a sampling of music for attendees as well. He noted that acts like The Accidentals and Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers had broken into the Ann Arbor music scene by playing at the festival.
"I look at Taste of Ann Arbor with a lot of the bands as artists on the rise,” he said. “And much like the food, it's to give people a taste. These are all different types of genres, all different types of bands, and ones that, usually bands that I try to focus on that are working hard — that are trying to do it, like Jacob Sigman and Wired in the Wood — bands that are beating the pavement and could use a good break."
Altruda, who said the festival had been going on for decades, said he appreciated the opportunity to participate in something with such a long history.
"Just to be involved with something that has great tradition, that brings out lots of people, for me to be able to have the opportunity to bring in some music and to see the response is fantastic," he said. "As I was watching Sigman's set, I was in the crowd, and I heard people, like 'Who is this? This is amazing!' If you really, really love music, then your favorite part about it is sharing it."